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Florida Keys to get nearly $50 million to clean up lingering Irma debris

Federal grant will help clear more than 100 canals

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MONROE COUNTY, Fla. – Still cleaning up storm debris nearly a year after Hurricane Irma, Monroe County has received a $49.2 million federal grant to help clear more than 100 of its clogged canals.

The work is expected to start in August in unincorporated Monroe County, Marathon and Islamorada. While much of the Florida Keys has rebounded from the powerful storm, some areas, especially in the Middle and Lower Keys, are still dealing with its impact.

The canals are choked with trash, boats, cars and even mobile homes. Wreckage from more than 1,000 boats has been pulled from Monroe County's waterways since September.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service provided the grant. The unincorporated parts of the county received the majority of the funds -- $35.2 million.

Monroe County Administrator Roman Gastesi said in February that 2.3 million cubic yards of debris had been collected across the Florida Keys.

In addition to government efforts, residents and volunteers have organized multiple cleanup events on weekends to restore the waterways.